Sunday, December 14, 2008

Revision ~ "The Instruction Aubade" ~ Charles

Begin to Live Alone

Wake slowly—bedroom window light shines slant with vertigo,
your arm half-bared touches its
                square pool of sun.

Pull a shirt and trousers like the closet’s
loose teeth, its savage, dark maw—
                Put them on.

Bathe—prepare breakfast—breathe air
stale with your own sterile scent—
                descend the stairway like a cloud—

Attend your job. Stroll from door to door,
form words. White noise like a fan’s
                rushing whirr says

everything you might imply. The day looms with its pendulum sun
swung slow back toward night. The hours
                mete out as ground glass—

At sunset, draw blinds. Your body
streaked with night takes on more weight—
                Sensible meal: choose salad;

skip dessert. Be strong. Be strong.
There’s no harm in looking good even when
                no one’s looking

Click here to read Charles's first draft.

From the fingertips of Charles Jensen:
My strategy for revision was to cull a form from the original piece, was was irregular. I also wanted to work toward more word economy and take out needless conjunctions and prepositions as I could. This poem needs more silence--more caesura--and it needed to be "harder." That said, I worked toward iambic meter but allowed some abrupt disruptions of it. I wanted the images to be more stark.

I don't know. I think it's still not done.

Normally I would not revise a poem this quickly. In my process work generally sits around a few months before I take a knife to it. I need to grow apart from it. But perhaps the austerity of this poem, its narrative distance ("you") makes it easier to work with.

1 comment:

jillypoet said...

This poem seems very tight to me. Your work revising is spot on. Without the unneccessary words, it flows much like a day would, effortlessly through the mundane tasks of living. Also, without those clunky words, it reads sort of choppy, which is also how a day can proceed. Does that make sense? Flowing and choppy? A day proceeds whether or not we participate in it, and it is not always smooth. There. I guess that is what I wanted to say. And your poem captures that.